BY SERENA PELENGHIAN
As an Armenian woman living in the Los Angeles diaspora, I am hurt and I am angry. We wake up panicked, checking our phones for the names of our brothers and sisters who have died. We fall asleep to news of more bombings. I share this pain with the Armenian National Committee of America, a large Armenian grassroots organization I intern for, and my close Armenian community. It’s hard enough to face these atrocities without the reactions and more so, the non-reactions of the Western society I live in.
On the morning of Sept. 27, Azerbaijan attacked Artsakh with a series of large-scale coordinated aerial and missile assaults along the line of contact. They targeted and shelled the capital of Artsakh, Stepanakert, as well as the Askeran, Martakert, Martuni, Hadrut and Shushi settlements, where civilians are now taking shelter. This attack follows those in July 2020, violating the U.N. ceasefire. Armenian-Azerbaijani grievances date back to the Armenian Genocide of 1915, perpetrated by Turkey, Azerbaijan‘s close ally. They have continually aided each other in attempting to destroy Armenia, aiming for a pan-Turkic nation. In 1921, Artsakh was removed from Armenia by Joseph Stalin as part of his divide-and-conquer tactic, and forced under Soviet-Azerbaijani rule. When Soviet rule collapsed, Armenians proclaimed Artsakh independent. Azerbaijan still disputes this proclamation.
As of today, there are 34 dead civilians, 101 wounded civilians and more than 450 Armenian soldiers killed. More are dying as you read this.
The media is missing the point of this news; they are taking a neutral stance. They are acting like this is an isolated event, when this is historically a targeted attack coinciding with a century-old attempt by Turkey to destroy Armenia. This ignores history and misinforms their viewers. The New York Times’ headline for its piece on the attack was “Fighting Flares Between Azerbaijan and Armenia” and their Twitter post read “Fighting broke out between Azerbaijan and Armenia on Sunday and quickly escalated, with two sides claiming action with artillery, helicopter and tanks along a disputed border.” This headline deliberately presents false information. Fighting did not “break out.” This was a direct, planned attack by Azerbaijan. This is clear from the organized attacks against Artsakh in July and the continuous deployment of Turkish military and supplies to Azerbaijan.
This is not a “disputed border.” Armenians are indigenous to the land. Some may expect us to be grateful for the coverage. But it is not coverage if it is not true. The West is protecting not the civilians being killed in Armenia, but rather, the economic resources they will lose if they speak the truth.
This is supposed to be the part where I tell you why you should care. I refuse to do that. I am tired of having to explain to people why they should care about genocide. I am tired of asking people to post something. I am tired of having to call people out and then watching them post one story as a reaction. Knowing that another genocide is erupting, that people are being killed by an aggressor connected to a genocidal government should be enough for you to care. If it isn’t, I have no reason to tell you why you should.
We cannot keep explaining and proving our death—the genocide of the past and the genocide of the present. There is deep pain in the Armenian diaspora all over the world, partially because we must continually reexplain our history. There are, in addition to the three million Armenians in Armenia, about eight million Armenians in world diasporas. These people are your neighbors. There are approximately 500,000 to one million Armenians in Los Angeles, the largest diaspora outside of Moscow. It is hypocritical to claim that the Armenian Genocide in 1915 was wrong but choose to stay silent about today’s atrocities.
Not being active on social media is not an excuse for silence. Take less than five minutes of your time and go to anca.org/alert to contact elected officials to condemn the aggressions of Azerbaijan. I urge you to read firsthand accounts from Armenians to understand the real story. Donate directly to the Armenia Fund. Donate essential supplies to Code 3 Angels for them to send to Artsakh and Armenia. Keep up with the news through sources such as Asbarez, The Armenia Report and others. Share accurate content on Twitter, as that is the only social media Azeris have access to; center the conversation on the true narrative. Use the hashtags #ArtsakhStrong, #Armenia and #StopAzerbaijaniAggression. Thank you to those who have shown support in the cause and are true allies; we see you.
Thank you to our Armenian soldiers; the soldiers who are our friends and families; the soldiers who are mostly the ages between 18-21; the soldiers coming from several of our diasporas; and the soldiers who truly love our nation so much that they will fight.
#Հաղթելուենք: We Will Win.
Serena Pelenghian is a Senior undergraduate student majoring in Critical Theory and Social Justice at Occidental College, where she is the Co-President of her Armenian Students Association. She is currently conducting research, documenting Armenian Los Angeles mothers and daughters’ histories in aim of a larger research project on the effects of the Armenian Genocide on diaspora. Pelenghian is also an ANCA WR intern and activist.